All 10 people revealed on Saturday as having died after testing positive for Covid-19 were ‘in the at-risk groups’, chief medical officer for England, Professor Chris Whitty, said.
Prof Whitty said: ‘I understand this increase in the number of deaths linked to Covid-19 will be a cause for concern for many. The public should know every measure we are taking is seeking to save lives and protect the most vulnerable.
‘Every single one of us has a role to play in achieving this. If you have a new continuous cough or high temperature, please stay at home for seven days. I also encourage everyone to be washing their hands for 20 seconds regularly.
‘I offer my sincere condolences to the families and friends who have received this difficult news. I ask that their privacy is respected at this time.’
Plans are under way to ban mass gatherings from next week as the government looks to implement more extreme measures in the fight against Covid-19.
Boris Johnson had faced criticism for not taking such actions, despite similar steps being taken by other European countries as the pandemic worsens.
Emergency legislation bringing in beefed-up powers will be published next week and there could also be a move towards more people working from home, a Whitehall source said.
Coronavirus: the facts
What is coronavirus?
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can affect lungs and airways. It is caused by a virus called coronavirus.
What caused coronavirus?
The outbreak started in Wuhan in China in December 2019 and it is thought that the virus, like others of its kind, has come from animals.
How is it spread?
As this is such a new illness, experts still aren’t sure how it is spread. But.similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. Therefore covering your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, and disposing of used tissues straight away is advised. Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long.
What are the symptoms?
The NHS states that the symptoms are: a dry cough, high temperature and shortness of breath - but these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. Look out for flu-like symptoms, such as aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose and a sore throat. It’s important to remember that some people may become infected but won’t develop any symptoms or feel unwell.
What precautions can be taken?
Washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly. The NHS also advises to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze; put used tissues in the bin immediately and try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell. Also avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.
Should I avoid public places?
Most people who feel well can continue to go to work, school and public places and should only stay at home and self isolate if advised by a medical professional or the coronavirus service.
What should I do if I feel unwell?
Don’t go to your GP but instead call NHS 111 or look online at the coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and what to do next.
When to call NHS 111
NHS 111 should be used if you feel unwell with coronavirus symptoms, have been in a country with a high risk of coronavirus in the last 14 days or if you have been in close contact with someone with the virus.